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Open Source Router? Oye Vey.

Now you can reduce costs with an open source router. Heck you can probably get enough money by selling your Cisco routers on eBay for a company picnic this year. Doing the happy dance yet?
I haven't spoken with Vyatta yet, and at some point I probably will, but the market for software routers has gotta be really small???relegated to organizations that are trying to pinch pennies and think that not paying for software is somehow going to automatically add to the bottom line. I see three problems off the top o' my noggin.

  • When you talk about network infrastructure, however, there is a whole lotta other things to consider. You can buy a support subscription from Vyatta, in fact that is how they will make their money off this, but just wait until you're trying to get that router working with BGP or OSPF and things don't go well. Your service provider can probably help you configure you Cisco, Alcatel. Nortel, or 3Com router, but probably not this one. You better have a good Linux jockey on hand.
  • Vyatta claims in this Open source router challenges proprietary networking market they want to replace routers in the class of Cisco 2800 to 7200 and equivalent products from other vendors. For straight routing, Vyatta's product may have what it takes, but those commercial products support a variety of interfaces seamlessly. No digging for drivers, no compiling, none of that stuff. Plug it in and it works. If it doesn't, holler at the vendor. While Linux has broad hardware support, it's far from complete. Besides, don't you have enough to do already without having to build and maintain another x86 box?
  • In that same article one of the strengths posited about open source is that it can be modified. I hate that argument because it's uninformed. Sure, anyone can add features to an open source platform, but why would you want to? Think about this. A router is critical infrastructure. If your router dies for any reason, you're screwed. Adding software, agents, applications, whatever, to critical infrastructure raises the risk on instability, security holes, failure, and other problems. I would rather let a router route, and use external systems to gather data, run services, etc.

My favorite quote about this topic came from a March 7th article on NewsForge Vyatta is building a business around Open Flexible Router. Doug Hass, COO of ImageStream Internet Solutions which makes a Linux based router said his company ???survives because we sell hardware. We've been hearing that an open source routing product was going to take over the world for 10 years, and it has yet to happen.... When are writers and industry pundits going to stop doing backflips every time a new company comes along and says, 'We're going to beat everybody and give everything away?" You go, Doug.